A stand

Thanks to Paul for these snaps. He was at the front of the queue for yesterday’s Secret Dancing, my third show, and third full house. This is hugely pleasing for me, and a relief thus far, as I had no idea who, if anyone, would come, and without ticket sales, it’s impossible to know in advance. On three occasions now, I have walked up Cowgate without any foreknowledge of whether or not there would be a queue. I am unable to become blase about this. Everyone through the door of Bannermans is my saviour! Great to see Paul, who has been a longtime Scottish supporter – and even came to the audience pilot of Banter in 2005! – and Tamsyn, who so comprehensively staged my recent Northampton debut; not to mention Martin White and Jim Bob, who might once have been an odd couple but are now united in their involvement (Martin as co-writer, Jim as performer) in Gutted: The Musical, which is on at the Assembly directly after Richard, and which I am holding off seeing so that this ludicrously ambitious venture can bed in.

My own ludicrously unambitious venture is progressing. I managed to cut enough from the first half of yesterday’s performance to get the Three Birding Ambitions back in. It is my favourite part to say out loud as it isn’t really built around jokes, so it would be a shame to lose it. Could it be that Monday really was hotter in that Bannermans tunnel than the previous two days? It felt like it, and my short-sleeved brown shirt – possibly a mistake – was soaked through. It was lovely to see the parents of someone who attended on Sunday sitting in the front row (they had introduced themselves beforehand), each with a lovely glass of white wine at 12.3o. It’s fun to meet my saviours. I was a little nervous having Martin, Jim and fellow Bannermans Free-Fringer Charlotte in, but I hope it didn’t show. Richard was very rude about me in his blog, saying that I think I am Lenny Bruce because I’ve done four gigs in Edinburgh (five now). I do not think I am Lenny Bruce. But I like the idea that I might, so let’s see.

After a pleasant but too-early pear cider with Jim, Tamsyn, Charlotte (she had a Fling – it’s a Highlands real ale, I believe) and Paul, I went for the traditional once-only O’Briens cafeteria lunch with Jim because it started pissing down before we could find anywhere more appetising. How would that place stay in business if it never rained? Actually, let’s not be snooty – they do actually prepare sandwiches for you from individual ingredients before your very eyes, and the staff are really pleasant; it’s not quite the BHS cafe that its decor and high kagoule count suggest. If I were O’Briens, I would join the 90s coffee revolution and serve coffee in actual cups, not paper ones, if diners are eating in. Unless the paper ones are designed to subliminally make you hurry up, as who wants to sit around savouring a coffee out of paper cup? (O’Briens don’t need my advice. It is always full.)

Because Richard has been attacking me on both Twitter and via his blog about not washing up the plates, cups and cutlery after his girlfriend’s lovely Sunday lunch – even though I thought they were being washed in the dishwasher (they weren’t, as the dishwasher doesn’t wash dishes, but I didn’t know this, or that Richard had washed them by hand, like Jesus) – I have decided to wash up every plate, cup and item of cutlery I can find from now on, whether used by him or anyone else in the flat, just to annoy him. I washed everything in the sink yesterday afternoon before he got home from not going to the gym, and when he did come home to eat some food that a supermarket had made for him, I washed every item the moment he had finished using it. And I wiped round all the surfaces, and cleaned his coffee machine. Just because I have a dishwasher in my house, doesn’t mean I have forgotten how to wash up. I am very good at washing up.

Richard has had his first lukewarm review, which I won’t link to. It’s not bad, it just compares his new show unfavourably with Hitler Moustache. I hope it doesn’t send his health spiralling into the Scottish gutter. I don’t want him to turn into Lenny Bruce.

Justin Moorhouse took a cab up to the Pleasance before his show, and I shared it with him, as I was going to see his show. This is the first cab I have taken in Edinburgh, and hopefully the last (not that I am ungrateful to Justin for letting me share it – indeed, he interviewed me in it for his radio show, which is on in Manchester or something). I like the constant walking up and down hills; it’s part of the package. Even in the pissing down rain. Especially in the pissing down rain.

I saw Justin’s show last year and although he had built a concept around his stand-up routine with prop cards and everything, he didn’t need it. He is just one of those natural comedians whose skill is to write material that sounds as if he is just offering it in affable conversation. This year, it’s back to basics: if the show’s title The Boiled Egg On The Beach suggests a narrative theme, it’s very loose – this is Justin using “ambition” as a way of talking about terrible childhood holidays with the family who lived across the road, and linking it to having a young family of his own now. It’s packed full of cleverly written lines (he describes sleeping in a cramped caravan with his siblings as like “sleeping on a foam cliff”, and nails a description of the gym he’s belonged to for ten years but never been to with the simple pay-off, “Welcome!”), and begins with a well-judged audience survey about class. Justin gave me his professional digital recorder so that I could review the show after it had finished, which I did, but it was a bit embarrassing walking around the back of the Pleasance pontificating into a machine. This is a much more considered version of that rambling attempt.

The Pleasance Baby Grand is one of the Portakabin venues, and hot, as all venues seem to be, but the intimate, 80-capacity room was charmed from one end to the other by Justin’s easy bonhomie. He even gets away with jokes about bumming more suited to Richard Herring as if it is family friendly material. That’s his skill. I expect by writing this much detail about one of my other flatmates’ shows will galvanise Richard’s fantasy that I didn’t like Christ On A Bike (except for the technical aspects and the size of the queue), but he has failed to spot that pretty much my entire existence is now one long tribute to his brilliance.

Because an old friend of Justin’s had driven with his girlfriend all the way to Edinburgh from Manchester on a whim, insanely planning to drive back after the show, we had a few drinks in the bar. They did not drive back. They crashed at the Young Ones-style flat. An enjoyable evening, we actually got thrown out of the Pleasance at closing time – I didn’t even know they had a closing time.

I am, as I type, I am having breakfast at the Black Medicine Coffee Company, one of my favourite sitdowns in Edinburgh (and, as far as I know, exclusive to Edinburgh, although they now have three outlets). Mmm, a ham and brie croissant, a smoothie with berries and ginger in it that has Ninja in its wacky name, and a latte with free biscuit, plus free wi-fi and nice wooden furniture. It sure beats O’Briens, although it’s usually full too and has that in common with it.

I finished the appendices in Stewart Lee’s bible, sorry, book, this morning. I laughed out loud at the Robert The Bruce bit. Read it.

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10 thoughts on “A stand

  1. I urge all audience members to have a go at Secret Dancing, it’s great fun. Would love to see any pictures of yesterday’s show when I took to the stage. It was going to be my only Fringe show but I enjoyed my day so much that I’m looking at trying to do a couple more shows.

  2. Seriously though, O’Briens sandwiches are ace. I really miss them down here in London. Although a houmous and felafel wrap from Palmyra is the first thing I eat every time I come back to Embra. God I want one now. *weeps*

  3. The buttons on my PDA don’t work because I dropped it in a big latte in the Black Medicine Coffee Company years ago. Undeniably my own fault, no-one made me hold it over it! I drink black coffee now, but I don’t think it would have made any difference…

  4. Oh, and in at least the one in your photo (the only branch I’ve been to, or knew of until I read this) they tend to have music on that makes you feel cool – it was mainly the Ramones last time I was in.

  5. If you’ve not tried it give Kilimanjaro Coffee a visit. It’s a little further down Nicolson Street, has even better coffee than BMCC and slightly more chilled atmosphere.

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